School status and its associations among children with epilepsy in the Republic of Guinea

Whitney Fitts, Nana Tassiou Rahamatou, Cisse Fode Abass, Andre C. Vogel, Atakla Hugues Ghislain, Foksouna Sakadi, Qiu Hongxiang, Mohamed Lamine Conde, Amadou Talibé Baldé, Abdoul Bachir Djibo Hamani, Aissatou Kenda Bah, Pria Anand, Bryan Patenaude, Farrah J. Mateen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In low-income countries (LICs), there are multiple barriers for children with epilepsy (CWE) to attend school. We examined potentially modifiable associations with poor school performance in CWE in the West African Republic of Guinea. Methods: Children with epilepsy of school age were recruited using public announcements and a clinical register of people with epilepsy at the Ignace Deen Hospital in Conakry in 2018. A team of Guinean and U.S. neurologists and neurologists-in-training interviewed each CWE and parent for his/her epilepsy history, household finances, educational attainment level, and perceived stigma using the Stigma Scale of Epilepsy (SSE). Each child was also tested using the Wechsler Nonverbal Scale of Ability (WNV). Low school performance was defined as either not attending school or being held back a grade level at least once. Potential predictors of low school performance were analyzed. Findings: Of 128 CWE (mean age: 11.6 years, 48.4% female), 11.7% (n = 15) never attended school, 23.3% (n = 30) dropped out, and 64.8% (n = 83) were currently enrolled. Of CWE attending school, 46.9% (n = 39) were held back a grade level. Overall, 54 children were defined as low performers (LPs) (42%).; Greater than 100 lifetime seizures (odds ratio (OR) = 8.81; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 2.51, 37.4; p = 0.001) and lower total WNV score (OR = 0.954; 95% CI = 0.926, 0.977; p < 0.001) were significantly associated with poor school performance in separate models, when controlling for potential confounders. Given the strong relationship between seizure freedom and school performance, we estimated that 38 additional CWE (33.6%) could become high performers (HPs) if all CWE were adequately treated to achieve the lifetime seizure category of < 10 seizures and could be cognitively intact again. Models examining SSE and household wealth quintile were not significantly associated with school performance. Conclusions: Higher lifetime seizures and lower WNV score were significantly associated with low school performance in CWE in Guinea. In spite of our conservative definition of high school performance (attending without failing) and risk of referral bias at an academic center where patients were allowed to self-refer, we demonstrate that seizure control in this setting could increase the number of CWE who could attend and stay in school.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-281
Number of pages7
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • Cognition
  • Education
  • Epilepsy
  • Global Health
  • Pediatrics
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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